In recent times, businesses have steadily moved online. From a higher influx of social media businesses to virtual stores, the gradual increase has been apparent. This incline can be directly linked to the increased use of social media, online directories, online bookstores, and generally, virtual media channels. The current pandemic has also made it evident that most businesses truly can thrive without a physical presence, and this is where websites come in.
Websites allow businesses to highlight their services, values, and reviews in an appealing manner. In other words, websites are a professional way of showing a possible client how reliable and efficient your brand is.
With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense for any brand or business to opt for a website. However, with one decision made, tons more arise. So you have decided that you do want a website for your business. You have also probably chosen a software development agency or a web developer to work with, but you’re now stuck! Should you opt for a WordPress theme or a Custom website?
To start with the basics, what exactly is WordPress?
WordPress is a platform that enables you to create and manage a website with ease. “Ease” is a crucial keyword here. If you’re not into website development, WordPress is a platform that simplifies the process. This simplification means that although you might lack web development skills, you could singlehandedly create a website via WordPress. This reason explains why WordPress is grouped under Website Content Management Systems (CMS).
WordPress is NOT a web hosting provider but a CMS. This clear distinction means WordPress will help you create your website online without any software download. Still, you would need to get a web hosting provider.
Now, what exactly are WordPress Themes?
WordPress Themes are a group of pre-made patterns, otherwise known as templates, that are used to provide different web designs in terms of general outlook and display. So, the whole point of WordPress themes is to provide variance and diversity. Imagine if all WordPress powered websites had the same exact appearance. It would be like a trademark and limit one’s choices. For instance, I might prefer a bold font with a red theme, whereas someone else might prefer an orange theme with a smaller font. This illustration uses just a small aspect of display styles, but I’m sure you get a much clearer picture now. These WordPress themes can be changed from a section called the Admin area, which can be seen just under Appearance> Themes.
WordPress themes can be classified into three; based on the level of customization, costs, and other factors that will be outlined below:
There are tons of free themes available on WordPress for you to choose. The use of plugins or codes increases the variation even more. To further explain, one could choose to add codes to change some specific features in a chosen free theme. These themes are available in the WordPress Theme directory. There are more than 5000 free themes available on the WordPress repository, so there are indeed loads of options available.
- It’s free! This zero-cost feature is a significant advantage. You don’t have to pay for the use of any of the free themes on WordPress. This feature also makes it an excellent choice for individuals with a tight budget as well as low-income startup businesses. It is important to note that sometimes you might be required to pay for updates. However, you can be sure that the cost will be relatively minimal compared to the other themes we will discuss below.
- It’s easy and simplified. You do not need to have extensive knowledge of web development. You do not need to know a million codes either. The free themes simplify the entire process.
- It’s easy to switch web designs. This advantage is linked to the free themes being simplified. It’s effortless to switch up your web design because you do not have to alter codes or worse, re-consult your web developer or web development agency. This independency is also really good for those who are newbies and are not sure of their design choice.
- You are not limited. There are regular updates made on the free themes that help enhance your web design and operation. Also, with the use of plugins as earlier mentioned, you could chip in more diversity.
- Your website will be hitch-free and secure. Limited features also translate to quicker processing speed. Also, your website is secure, as well.
- There is limited Originality and Uniqueness. Since the theme is already setup and visible to all users, there is a minimized level of originality. It’s highly possible to come across several other websites with an exact design or layout as yours. This lack of flexibility becomes a significant con when you have an exact layout in mind.
- Customization requires coding knowledge. To customize your free theme website, you would need to know how to code. So, let’s say, for instance, you like a free theme, but you’d want to make some alterations. These alterations can only be made by coding.
- There is limited Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The free themes barely have inherent SEO features. You should consider this if you want your site to be optimized.
- There is no support if a technical issue arises. The lack of support makes sense since it is impractical for WordPress to track down the developer(s) for a particular free theme.
Premium themes are more extensive in features and generally have more support in comparison to free themes. You should expect better web designs and relative superiority to the free themes.
- The premium themes have better quality and a more extensive range of in-built features.
- The premium themes do not require third-party when technical issues arise as these themes have more support as well as detailed information that serves as a guide during the setup process.
- A higher level of customization and hence, originality. The premium themes offer your website a better chance of being distinguished than the free themes.
- Updates are more frequent and reliable.
- Premium WordPress themes are more expensive. However, this should be expected as more features are unlocked here.
- The operating time of the premium themed website is relatively longer. Remember, the operation speed is directly proportional to in-built features.
Custom WordPress themes, on the other hand, are themes with a unique layout. This theme allows you to add any unique feature and thus, customize it perfectly to suit your brand.
- You do not require any extensive coding knowledge to create a custom theme on WordPress.
- There is an even increased level of customization and originality. The name of this theme says it all.
- Since the design method is unique, custom themes on WordPress can be designed to be very secure.
- If you want to build a custom theme from scratch, it is expensive, to put it mildly.
- Compared to the other themes available on WordPress, the custom theme takes a longer time to set up or build.
- It is not compatible with plugins or codes, which means making changes or alterations is not readily done.
- You would need to hire a web developer/ web development agency for ongoing support which, of course, equals more costs.
- Again, custom themes are incompatible with fundamental updates. Imagine having pages of your website disappear just because you made some updates. This malfunction is easily avoidable with the use of other WordPress themes.
Why Choose WordPress generally for your website?
Having read through the different themes available on WordPress alongside their distinct pros and cons, you might be wondering why you should choose WordPress in the first place. This question is made even more valid by the fact that there are tons of alternatives to WordPress. So why choose WordPress? Well, my answer is, why not?
- Simplicity as a Content Management System: WordPress simplifies the whole web development process. There are different themes available for people with zero to extensive coding knowledge.
- Efficiency and Credibility: WordPress is extremely credible, and by extension, reliable. It is also highly efficient by foreseeing possible setbacks and creating solutions for them. Its efficiency also covers the processing speed of your website by making specific plugins available.
- Affordability: The various options of WordPress themes offer different costs that cut across high-end businesses and startups.
- Wide range of options: WordPress redefines flexibility. There are limitless options and customization features. It’s almost staggering!
- Scalability through plugins and modules: WordPress makes use of lots of plugins and codes that simplify the whole content management process.
- A vast amount of available resources online: Is there something you do not quite understand? Search online. WordPress has a massive number of users and hence, support.
- High Security: WordPress is also secure! You can also choose to enhance your web security as well with distinct features like locked folders.
A custom-built website is essentially one that is built from scratch by a web developer/ web development agency. There is no pre-made layout. The design of the website is done to suit your exact specifications and requests. It is limitless when it comes to customization, uniqueness, and flexibility. The whole process is left to the web developer(s). Custom websites also take a longer time to be set up unlike the use of templates, as in the case with WordPress.
A custom website makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to branding. The limitless customization allows you to make your website a replica of what you want. This customization is not just restricted to designs and layout styles but also in making adaptations as your business grows. You can also optimize your website, make it more search engine friendly, and ensure a high ranking generally. You also automatically get support from the web development agency or freelancer that builds your website. They will thus do updates, alterations, as well as respond and fix any flaws.
Of course, you can guess the major con of custom websites. A significantly high cost! The cost of creating a custom website is relatively higher, which is a huge turn off for individuals and small startup businesses. However, the comfort that comes with just leaving everything in the hands of professionals might prove worth the cost.
Another con of custom websites is the fact that any alterations you decide to make will most likely involve the web developer(s) that built your website which, of course, translates to higher costs in the long run. Again, the customization and limitless graphic designs available might overshadow this con depending on your priorities.
How to choose the right option for your business?
Every business is unique. This isn’t just a catch introduction but a truth that needs to be understood. Your business differs in size, niche, complexity, values, accomplishments, and so many other factors from the next business. These differences translate to different needs unique to each business as well. There is no general rule of thumb in creating websites. You will have to work with the resources available and options at your disposal. Do you have minimal funding? Then, maybe start with a website built with WordPress free themes. Do you prioritize customization over cost, then maybe consider a custom website or custom-themed WordPress websites.
The examples given above help explain that the choice you make for your business is genuinely dependent on so many factors that you are in the best position to consider. To summarize, there is no “one size fits all” remedy here. However, whatever decision you make, it is essential to note the pros and cons it comes with and to use this to your advantage in the best possible way.